Keanu Ebanks: Leading the charge from Leeds to Germany to Sweden

Keanu Ebanks is a big man…the 26 year old 6’6 300 pound offensive lineman played the 2020 season with the Stockholm Mean Machines in the Swedish Superserien after spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the high-powered Hildesheim Invaders in the German Football League. Ebanks routinely handled opposing defensive ends. His passion for the game was evident as Ebanks regularly shut down some of the best pass rushers in both countries and even blocked a field goal, doing whatever his team asked of him. The Stockholm squad made it all the way to the final before losing a heart breaker to the Carlstad Crusaders while the Invaders reached the German quarterfinals.

Ebanks on his time with the Mean Machines:

“The coaches and players for the Mean Machines were both extremely welcoming, I felt at home immediately. The coaching staff were focused on one goal and worked their asses off trying to win a championship. My first game back was fun as hell!”

Before he was manhandling defensive ends in Europe, Ebanks was at the University of Hull. The former shark was a two-way star on the offensive and defensive lines for his team, leading his squad to a north division title and even using his size to block a field goal and secure a victory over powerhouse British university program Leeds Beckett. After university Ebanks signed with Hildesheim for the 2018 season.

“For most British guys it isn’t easy to get into the GFL, I created a Europlayers account in 2017 and started messaging teams. It felt like I messaged every team in Germany and I wasn’t getting a reply. I finally got a message from Hildesheim who decided to bring me out for a workout later that year. I then had to wait a couple of months before hearing back from them , I was right about to sign with a team in France when I got the call.”

Stockholm Mean Machines OT Keanu Ebanks #56 looking out for his QB Photo: Stefan Akander

After arriving in Germany the versatile lineman switched the offensive side of the ball. Ebanks competed against some of the best players in Europe at the new position in the competitive German Football League. In 2019 Ebanks was back in Hildesheim, this time bulked up and ready to play left tackle for a revamped team. He was vital part of the Invaders success helping them reach the GFL playoffs for the first time in the team history.

But like they say no rest for the wicked. Soon after the season the former Hull Shark was contacted by the NFL International Player Pathway program. He had been invited to the NFL Global combine in Cologne, Germany. Ebanks and other prospects didn’t have much time to prepare for this event given their season had just ended, but this didn’t stop the determined lineman. Ebanks athleticism, strength, and size were on full display as he performed drills and combine events for pro scouts and NFL personalities such as Lecharles Bentley.

“I was invited to the combine in Cologne that took place in October of 2019. I started training for the combine during the back end of the season, learning the different combine drills with my 3 other teammates that were also invited Karlis Brauns, Roedion Henrique, and Jeffrey Juurlink. When the weekend of the combine arrived we travelled to Cologne and were picked up and taken to the facility. The entire process was completely professional, we were provided with room, food and with whatever we needed.”

Keanu Ebanks going for a block against Carlstad Crusaders Photo: Stefan Akander

Later that winter the CFL contacted Ebanks about the CFL Global combine in England continuing to grow his football opportunities.

“After being invited the NFL combine, I got in touch with the British ambassador for the CFL in the UK. I sent him my film and measurables from the NFL combine and I was able to obtain an invite for the Global Combine in the UK. I attended the combine in early January of 2020, the process was once again incredibly professional throughout.”

The former Hildesheim invaders attributes his success to his family, girlfriend, university coaches, and especially the Invaders offensive line coach Gerrit Meister. Meister is a former Braunschweig New Yorker Lions lineman who coached in Hildesheim in 2019.  This year, after the cancelation of the CFL and GFL seasons Ebanks decided to take his talents to up north to Sweden, joining the powerhouse Stockholm Mean Machines.

“ I decided that I needed to play football by any means, it turned out I had a friend who was playing in Stockholm who got me in touch with Coach Pilback. I spoke to him on the 1st of August, signed by the 3rd and flew out on the 10th . All happened very fast!”

Ebanks has come a long way from the muddy fields at the University of Leeds. This turbulent year has not swayed him from his future football goals one bit. The passionate lineman is looking forward to strapping up his pads and chasing greatness again in 2021.

“The NFL or CFL , that’s been the dream since I was 19, and a goal I will continue to work towards as long I’m playing. The possibility of playing in the ELF is something that also excites me for the coming year and Europe is always calling my name.”

Alex Malchow
Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football stories from across the globe.
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